Perkins, Twins dominate Angels
Young, Span homer to back left-hander's superb outing
ANAHEIM -- On Thursday night, the Twins tested their road mettle against the Angels by pulling out a one-run victory in 12 innings at Angel Stadium.One night later, the club didn't need quite so many theatrics. A 9-0 victory over the Angels on Friday night not only gave the Twins two consecutive wins to start out their 14-game road trip, it also moved the Twins back into first place in the American League Central. It's exactly the type of start that the club was looking for in what has been the most-talked-about road trip for the Twins this season. "We are on a very tough road trip here and we're playing the best team in our league," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We know we have to come out and can't make mistakes. We have to be totally into the games." One person who clearly appeared into the contest from the first pitch he threw was Twins starter Glen Perkins. Pitching has been a focus for the Twins on this trip and they got another big boost Perkins. The Angels' offense was handcuffed for a second straight night, as Perkins followed Scott Baker's eight-inning gem by tossing eight shutout innings of his own. The rookie left-hander scattered just five hits in the contest and didn't give the Angels much breathing room at all. "Watching how [Baker] got the guys out last night, I just tried to emulate that and made my pitches and guys made the plays behind me," Perkins said. "Having a game like that last night where a starter goes eight, you're trying to save the bullpen and still end up pitching four innings, it's nice to be able to go that deep and save the bullpen." The only real scoring threat for the Angels came in the first inning, when Erick Aybar doubled with one out in the inning and reached third base on Vladimir Guerrero's flyout. But Perkins (11-3) got Torii Hunter to fly out to right field. It was a continuation of Hunter's woes against his former team. After going just 3-for-16 in the opening four games of the season at the Metrodome, Hunter is 0-for-8 with a walk in two games in this series. Perkins, who has won nine of his past 10 decisions, also got quite a bit of help from his offense, thanks to the nine runs of support. It was the most runs the Twins have scored at Angel Stadium since June 26, 2000, when they picked up a 10-8 victory. And the offensive onslaught was carried by a pair of outfielders -- Denard Span and Delmon Young. The two combined to go 5-for-9 with seven RBIs. But it was their pair of home runs that had the biggest impact. Young's came in the fourth inning after the Twins had wasted earlier opportunities to get on the board. In each of the first three innings, the Twins' leadoff hitter reached base, but the club was unable to drive them home. Then with two outs in the fourth and a runner on first, Young managed to display some patience against Angels left-hander Joe Saunders. He got ahead 2-0 in the count and then belted the next pitch deep into the right-center field seats. "You just know he's not going to try to get behind 3-0 with a runner at first base," Young said. "He was going to try to throw for a strike and he happened to miss over the plate." The two-run homer by Young gave the Twins their first lead and the team just continued to pelt Saunders after that. In his start against the Twins in April, Saunders limited the club to just four hits over eight innings. But this time, Young said the lefty gave the club opportunities to work the counts and get hits by his failure to throw first-pitch strikes. Saunders lasted only 5 1/3 innings in this contest and wasn't in the game when Span added to the lead. A three-run blast to right-center by Span for his third homer of the season increased the Twins' lead to 8-0. And from there, the Twins were able to cruise quite easily, thanks in part to some increased focus by Perkins. Although the Twins had built him big leads in previous starts, Perkins had watched some of them disappear due to some late blunders on his part -- including three home runs in the sixth inning to Seattle in his last start. "It was nice to keep my focus and not only get through the sixth and the seventh but the eighth with a lead like that and not give anything back to them," Perkins said. "I think [pitching coach Rick Anderson] was the happiest about that." With Chicago's 7-4 loss to Tampa Bay at home earlier on Friday night, Minnesota has a half-game lead over the White Sox in the division race. The Twins were well aware of the loss during their contest with some of the players checking the out-of-town scoreboard. But while it was nice for the Twins to get a lead back in their division, the club was more focused on their ability to get started on the right foot for this road trip. "The more wins we can get early, the less pressure it puts upon us to not have to try and salvage a road trip," Perkins said. "We know we have 12 games left on the trip and we're going to try to win more than we lose."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.